Monday, March 23, 2009
Virgin Mobile Canada has recently launched a blog called Screw You Recession. It's a bizarre mish-mash of money-saving tips, celebrity gossip, and random entertaining links. Like everyone else lately, there is also an @virginmobilecan Twitter account with similar content (e.g., they tweeted from the recent Britney Spears show in Toronto).
In one way, this is sorta awesome. They're embracing the new reality of the internet and trying to connect with people through content they relate to. People like celebrity blogs and Twittering, so why not create those things then sprinkle in plugs for their product?
Well, because, in another way, there's something inherently dishonest about the whole thing. They don't really care about creating a quality finance/celebrity blog. They don't really care about connecting with people through Twitter in the way it was intended. They're only tweeting from Britney concerts because Virgin is the sponsor of the tour. When they tweet "only mins away from britney!! anyone see her??!!", I really doubt they expect any of the 100 people following Virgin's twitter account to be within eyeshot of Britney.
And it spreads. They're reaching out to bloggers, paying them to write about all this marketing gunk. Unless this post doesn't really count, I'll get $30 for those links up there. But see, I don't really care about plugging Virgin Mobile. The only way I can keep from feeling like a dirty sell-out blog whore is to make fun of it all.
Wanna know how to play the internet right? The best example I can think of is a local one. London's main newspaper, the Free Press, has all sorts of staff members that blog and are on Twitter. Dan Brown, the senior online editor, has a blog and a Twitter account where he actually writes about stuff he cares about and interacts with the people who read it. Sure it draws attention to the newspaper, but it does so without sacrificing that all-important authenticity.
Authenticity can't be faked by jumping on the nearest technological bandwagons.